A new study has found that some children who exhibit signature symptoms of the disorder recover completely.
Doctors have long believed that disabling autistic disorders last a lifetime, but a new study has found that some children who exhibit signature symptoms of the disorder recover completely.
The study, posted online on Wednesday by the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, is the largest to date of such extraordinary cases and is likely to alter the way that scientists and parents think and talk about autism, experts said.
Researchers on Wednesday cautioned against false hope. The findings suggest that the so-called autism spectrum contains a small but significant group who make big improvements in behavioral therapy for unknown, perhaps biological reasons, but that most children show much smaller gains. Doctors have no way to predict which children will do well.
Researchers have long known that between 1 and 20 percent of children given an autism diagnosis no longer qualify for one a few years or more later. They have suspected that in most cases the diagnosis was mistaken; the rate of autism diagnosis has ballooned over the past two decades, and some research suggests that it has been loosely applied.
The new study should put some of that skepticism to rest.